East Central Regional Library Director Gary Swint, who recently led the library through construction of a new 90,000-square-foot Augusta-Richmond County Library downtown, is preparing to leave the system after a career in Augusta libraries that began when he was a teenager.
On Thursday, the library board announced the names of two finalists to replace Swint, who is retiring March 31. The candidates are Teresa Cole, the director of Dougherty County Library in Albany, and Diana Shousen Remington, the director of Summit County Library in Park City, Utah.
Swint said he had considered retirement for several years but wanted to wait until the new library opened.
Swint's full-time career with the library system began in 1973, but he first worked as a student assistant at the Appleby Branch in 1967. He worked part time in libraries during college at Georgia Tech and Emory University then returned to the five-county system, where he has worked for more than 43 years.
During construction of the library at James Brown Boulevard between Greene and Telfair streets, Swint said he was committed to building a library that would serve the community for many years.
"We weren't just building for 2010, but for at least the next 20 to 30 years," Swint said. "My feeling was that there was not going to be any addition for decades."
Patrons have flocked to the library since it opened last year. Usage is up 100 percent from the previous year, in part because of a huge addition of print materials paid for using special purpose, local option sales-tax funds.
"We were the first city or county in the state of Georgia to include materials as part of furnishings for SPLOST," Swint said. "Now any number of cities and counties around the state have done that and cited us."
Swint's family has been in the area since before the Civil War, and he said his mother, who was a friend of the library in the 1950s, helped him get his first library position.
Though he is retiring, Swint said he expects to help the system through a transitional period and will likely go into consulting work in library construction.
A search committee was appointed by Library Board Chairwoman Barbara Jean Lester to find Swint's replacement. The board and committee hope to announce a decision within the next few weeks.